Iran news headlines on Monday include Iran launching monkey into space successfully; world powers urging Iran to hold nuke talks in February; Russian Foreign Minister asking global powers and Iran to agree a date and place for new talks; Iran’s deputy foreign minister announcement of Iran readiness to help Syrian refugees in Jordan; Iran denial of Fordo underground uranium facility and Iran detaining 11 reporters over ‘foreign contacts’.
Iran has successfully launched a live monkey into space, the Fars news agency reported on Monday, lauding it as an advance in a missile and space program that has alarmed the West and Israel.
There was no independent confirmation of the report and there have been no announcements by Western powers of any Iranian launch late last week.
World powers have asked Iran to hold a new round of talks over Tehran’s nuclear work in February, a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy representative said on Monday.
The EU’s Catherine Ashton, who oversees diplomatic contacts with Iran on its nuclear program on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, said last week the Iranian authorities were stalling on efforts to resume diplomacy over the program.
Global powers and Iran should “stop behaving like little children” and agree a date and place for new talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
European officials have accused Tehran of stalling on arranging a meeting with the six nations, including Russia, that are trying to prevent Irandeveloping atomic weapons. Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely for peaceful purposes.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in Jordan on Sunday that his country was ready to provide aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who live in the kingdom.
“I met with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and discussed Iran’s offer to provide aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan as well as on the Syrian-Lebanese border,” Abdollahian told reporters in Amman without elaborating.
Iran has denied media reports of a major explosion at one of its uranium enrichment sites, describing them as “Western propaganda” designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.
Reuters has been unable to verify reports since Friday of an explosion at the underground Fordow bunker, near the religious city of Qom, that some Israeli and Western media have said caused significant damage.
Iran has arrested 11 journalists accused of cooperation with foreign-based, Persian-language media organizations, several chief editors of Iranian outlets said Monday.
The development is a major escalation in a press crackdown that reflects Iran’s zero tolerance for those who work with dissident media or outlets deemed as unfriendly or hostile.
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